London, Sept. 23 (Reuters): British Prime Minister Tony Blair told his ministerial team today there was “no doubt” Iraq was continuing to build weapons that could wreak havoc, making a forceful case for action against Saddam Hussein.
As British officials forecast a draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq would be tabled in days, Blair held a special meeting of his Cabinet to persuade some sceptical members that Saddam posed a real threat to world security.
Blair revealed a dossier of intelligence on Saddam. It will be made public tomorrow ahead of a full parliamentary debate.
His message was stark — inaction is not an option.
“The Prime Minister said the issue of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction is real, serious and the problem has grown worse in four years without inspections,” a spokesman for Blair told Reuters.
“There is no doubt...that Saddam is continuing with his WMD programme. We are not talking about historic leftovers but an ongoing, continuing programme,” Blair was quoted as saying.
Blair, Washington’s staunchest ally since last year’s September 11 attacks, faces a dilemma — whether to remain at President George W. Bush’s shoulder wielding some influence, or ease growing domestic disquiet. The Premier sounded a notably hawkish tone to his ministers. “The truth is the policy of containment has not worked,” the spokesman characterised him as saying. “(Saddam) has been able to make progress in his WMD programme and has to be stopped.”
But he also said it was right for the issue to be dealt with through the UN, going on to stress the importance of progress to bring Palestinians and Israelis together to refloat the West Asian peace process.
Both Britain and the US have stepped up pressure on the Security Council to adopt a tough new resolution before any resumption of UN arms inspections in Iraq.